So parents don’t like No Child Left Behind. They don’t like Common Core. They don’t like their children’s sagging test scores. They don’t like Wyoming’s mediocre graduation rate.
And so what is it, Wyoming?
It seems like every standard proposed by the state or federal departments of education is met with fierce resistance and talk of conspiracy.
Some in Wyoming believe education is slowly being turned over to a monolithic federal government. Others fear a United Nations plot.
Yet it’s troubling that every time standards are proposed and measurements (read: tests) required, Wyoming balks.
It’s easy to blame federal programs. To blame teaching to test. To blame teachers themselves.
But the truth is: Wyoming students are not performing.
More pointedly: Wyoming students are not performing in line with the fact that the state is among the biggest spenders per pupil in the nation.
It doesn’t make sense to relax or even toss out the standards we have just because some people believe the requirements (read: expectations) are some kind of government plot.
In order for Wyoming to truly be competitive and achieve great things, it must have a well-educated workforce.
Just mumbling something about local control won’t improve student results.
The only hope for Wyoming education is loftier standards and higher expectations, not less.
Speaking of expectations, how many parents take seriously the role they play in their child’s education? Too many of these same people who question the motivations behind standards and blame educators for poor student performance are just empty seats at back-to-school nights and parent-teacher conferences.
Frankly, it’s sad that one Casper area elementary school dutifully, but admirably, resorted to calling every parent and, if possible, their employer about parent-teacher conference schedules in order to enhance attendance, according to an earlier Star-Tribune story.
Parents must pay attention: Big changes are coming for education in Wyoming. And we’re not just talking about the new governor-appointed director of the Department of Education position now held by Rich Crandall.
According to a recent story by Star-Tribune education reporter Leah Todd, a new education accountability system in the works at the Wyoming Department of Education would hold schools accountable to a state-developed set of performance standards starting in the spring of 2015.
The new system is the rough equivalent of the federal accountability measures outlined in the No Child Left Behind Act. It would place Wyoming schools in one of four performance categories each year: exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, partially meeting expectations, not meeting expectations.
The plan would measure more than just student achievement, Todd reported. Such factors as student growth, student readiness and a school’s equity in dealing with at-risk or low-achieving students will all play into the equations used to determine a school’s achievement category, which in turn will trigger interventions from the state Department of Education in low-performing schools.
Schools failing to meet expectations will be required to report to the state Department of Education about why they failed and what steps the school is taking to help accelerate student performance, as the proposal is now written. If a school doesn’t meet expectations for two or more consecutive years, the legislation says, a state assistance team will develop turn-around strategies for each under-performing school.
We all must keep a keen eye on how the plan develops and is implemented. And provide constructive criticism (read: no conspiracy theories).
The goal, of course, is to set expectations for educators and students to meet. The ultimate goal is to create a climate in which Wyoming students prosper.
What lawmakers can’t legislate are expectations for parents.
And so what is it, Wyoming?